Undefeated – Interview with Liam Sweeny – Xperience Monthly
Written by Liam Sweeny on March 3, 2023
Talent ends at no border, blocks no abundance or absence of station, and, most importantly here, requires no long hard road of age. For only in the free application of talent could wonder be manifest in a willowy dance or a peal of self-wrought thunder or a haunting, crystalline crescendo arising from three performers with the world ahead of them and the wind behind.
UnDefeated, a rock/metal sibling trio featuring bassist Lis Dunckel, drummer Christian Dunckel, and guitarist and lead vocalist Meredith Dunckel, are riding the wind, and at times, the wind chill, with every gig.
I sit down with Meredith Dunckel and we discuss the cold North. \
RRX: I find that bands don’t always do the greatest job describing themselves, and it’s a wasted opportunity. “7-piece Polka-reggae mix” falls a little flat. So describe Undefeated in a way that Stan Lee would’ve used to introduce a comic book hero or group? “One day, mild mannered…” You get it.
MD: “Born in the snowy regions of the Tug Hill Plateau, Undefeated fights for the new generation of rock music. Surprising you at every turn, these siblings will set your soul on fire.”
A true renaissance man, Christian studies art, literature and science by day and pounding blast-beats by night. Lis dances her way through life (literally! She’s a level 6 classically-trained ballerina!) and is strong in heart. Opening up their iconic sound, Meredith’s voice rolls in.
RRX: Working a sibling act must be tough. On the one hand, you know each other better than anyone, so the mind-reading that has to go on in music is just “there”. On the other hand, a lot of good music comes from players new to each other feeling out the terrain. How do you manage finding fresh ground as players, and as siblings?
MD: Like all average American siblings, we don’t hesitate to be completely rude to one another. Those are the odd days haha. We know each other so well – we’re also able to bring balance. We know when to give each other space, and when to push a little. We also hold each other up on the low days – it’s the best thing to be in business with family. With new music / fresh ground – drums make a difference. And Christian can do EVERYTHING. Heavy heavy metal, bongos, a Jamaican beat – you name it, he’s amazing. Drums change the entire dynamic of a song, so it’s really fun to mess around and see what happens when I (Meredith) write lyrics and then take it to the band.
RRX: Bands set a mood, push an idea, tell a story. Metal bands especially. Megadeth blew my mind in 1990 with Hangar 18, all government secrets and nukes and magic. And in listening to your songs, I feel that tradition. So someone opens up an Undefeated CD, what world are you exposing them to? What are the mysticisms and the cosmic wonders?
MD: No drama, no time. We are weary of drama – politics, relationships, the like. Things in life can be ugly, it is what it is. Turn your back, facing something greater.
RRX: You’re a female fronted band, fronted by you, Meredith. And it would please my heart to know that it strictly goes to your advantage rather than your hindrance, because your sound is so dope. How much of an impact do you think being a female fronted band? Does it open up opportunities, put up barriers, or are people just generally chill?
MD: Mostly, people are pretty chill! We’ve been a part of a couple female – fronted festivals, and that’s always a blast to learn from our peers that have been in the business longer!
We haven’t experienced any sort of genderism – any hesitation, or difficulty that I run into as a business woman is typically related to my small (but mighty!) stature haha! It takes time to grow a respected name!
RRX: Undefeated is from Lowville, New York, which, aside from being the name of the town in my next noir novel, is pretty far up north. Like Santa got hurt in your mosh pit. Places flavor people, and bands are people. What is it about living up in the Tughill Plateau that makes you want to scream so elegantly?
MD: Hahaha this is the best question I think we’ve ever gotten. We live on a one-mile straight up hill, with a view of the Black River Valley and the Adirondack Mountains. We watch storms roll in, and spring flooding. It’s beautiful. So, it was either that or yodeling (picture that!) We thought screaming would fit us a *bit* better. Lol!
RRX: You are the future of rock and metal; or rather, you’re the present of rock and metal. And if you’ve been around any of the music groups on social media, you know the older generations are very intractable about their musical opinions. Do you think this gatekeeping exists among newer bands and newer listeners? If not, how do they express their tastes?
MD: Not so much in the rock/metal genres. The younger generation has so much Independent music available, that they are very creative listeners. We are supported by the older generation as well – as one man put it, “I don’t understand it, but if my grandkids are getting healthy messages, then I fully support it.”
People are very passionate about different sides of themselves – and they love to have music that expresses that!
Our biggest compliment is that we have multiple sides – from heavy rock, to a ballad!
RRX: This is where you answer the question I didn’t asl. Remarks? Comments? Educate, enlighten, emote – the floor is yours.
MD: Our music screams about all the hills and valleys of life – come find an oasis with us!
And thank you for having us for this – these are by far the best and most entertaining questions we’ve done!